Waiver draft from an Edmonton perspective

By Michael Speidel

One of the drawbacks for the Oilers, in having finally developed depth at the NHL level, will be the waiver implications. Edmonton is almost certain to lose a capable NHLer or two this year, via regular waivers, if a trade can’t be made to move some of their forward depth before the NHL season begins.

We’ll look at both the waiver draft, and regular waivers, beginning with the draft itself.

Waiver Draft

Oilers who were protected last year (http://hockeynut.com/0102/waiverlists2001.html), and thus are waiver draft eligible this year as well:

Anson Carter F
Ethan Moreau F
Georges Laraque F
Josh Green F
Marty Reasoner F
Mike Grier F
Ryan Smyth F
Todd Marchant F
Eric Brewer D
Janne Niinimaa D
Jason Smith D
Scott Ferguson D
Steve Staios D
Tommy Salo G

This leaves the Oilers with room to protect 5 skaters, and 1 goalie.

Other roster players from last year who now need to be protected:

Mike York F – was protected by NYR last year.
Shawn Horcoff F – signed as a 22 year old (at age 21, but in his 22 year old season by CBA definition), and has now played too many NHL games (110 games played vs. the allowable 70 GP) to remain waiver exempt. Horcoff is subject to both the waiver draft and regular waivers now. In fact, at the time of his conditioning stint last season, he was no longer ineligible for regular waivers, which explains why he was sent down on a conditioning stint instead of being demoted outright.

Dan Cleary F – signed as an 18 year old, and has now played too many NHL games (214 GP vs. allowable limit of 160 GP).

Thus, the Oilers are now only able to protect 2 more skaters, and one more goalie, in the NHL waiver draft. Fortunately for the Oilers, they don’t have anyone else who needs to be protected.

According to section 13.4 of the CBA:

“A Player 25 years old or older who plays in one or more
Professional games in any season shall be exempt from regular
season waivers for the remainder of that season and from the
waiver draft in the next season.”

Jussi Markkanen G – signed as a 25 + year old player, and thus is ineligible for the wavier draft regardless of how many games played.

This ruling also applies to G Ty Conklin, F Jiri Dopita, and D Kari Haakana, who are all ineligible for the waiver draft, but will have to go through regular waivers to play in Hamilton, should EDM send them to the AHL.

The Oilers have another large block of players who are all waiver draft ineligible but subject to regular waivers. These players have all played 3 full seasons of minor pro hockey, after having signed their first professional contracts from the age range of 20-23 years old. However, none of these players have played enough NHL games to be eligible for the NHL waiver draft this year. These players are:

Brian Swanson F
Jason Chimera F
Chad Hinz F
Peter Sarno F
Alex Henry D

Mike Comrie F signed at age 20, and thus has to play 3 pro seasons before he is even eligible for regular waivers, unless he plays more than 160 NHL games. Comrie will pass 160 NHL games roughly midway through this season, barring injury. As such, he does not have to be protected in the waiver draft this year, but will be subject to regular waivers once he’s played his 160th NHL game, including playoffs (though I wouldn’t count on seeing him in the AHL any time soon, Bulldogs fans).

Ales Pisa D also is exempt from both waiver situations. He signed at age 24, and thus has 2 full seasons of waiver exemption (which for Pisa would be last year and this year’s season, and this year and next year’s waiver draft) unless he plays in 60 NHL games, which he has yet to do.

Any newly signed Oilers (Salmeleinen, Stoll, and Hemsky) are all waiver exempt, as are the following players, who haven’t played enough minor pro years or NHL games to be subject to the waiver draft or waivers:

Jani Rita F
Michael Henrich F
Alexei Semenov D
Bobby Allen D
Alex Liubimov D
Marc Andre Bergeron D

Waiver draft protected list:

Anson Carter F
Ethan Moreau F
Georges Laraque F
Josh Green F
Marty Reasoner F
Mike Grier F
Ryan Smyth F
Todd Marchant F
Mike York F
Shawn Horcoff F
Dan Cleary F
Eric Brewer D
Janne Niinimaa D
Jason Smith D
Scott Ferguson D
Steve Staios D
Tommy Salo G

This would be a total of 16 skaters and one goalie. Markkanen will likely be protected even though he doesn’t need to be, if the Oilers are required to protect 2 goalies.

Note: If I have incorrectly identified the ruling on Haakana and Dopita, and they are indeed waiver draft eligible, there would still be no problem for Edmonton as they have 2 skater spaces available.

The Oilers appear to be in great shape for the waiver draft; they can even infamously continue to protect Mr Reijo Ruotsalainen again this year, to have a body to drop should someone they want to select be available at the Oilers draft position.

Regular Waivers

Matters are much more difficult when it comes to regular waivers.

Oilers forwards who have to clear regular waivers:

Anson Carter F
Ethan Moreau F
Georges Laraque F
Josh Green F
Marty Reasoner F
Mike Grier F
Ryan Smyth F
Todd Marchant F
Mike York F
Shawn Horcoff F
Dan Cleary F
Brian Swanson F
Jason Chimera F
Chad Hinz F
Peter Sarno F
Jiri Dopita F

That is 16 forwards who have to clear waivers. It is very likely the Oilers will carry 14 forwards on their opening roster, which leaves 3 or 4 forwards to clear waivers to be sent to Hamilton (Comrie will take a roster spot, and 4 forwards will have to clear waivers if another waivers ineligible player – Hemsky, Stoll, Salmeleinen, or Rita – is to crack the roster). It has been reported that Hemsky will start the year in Edmonton, but one suspects that is still somewhat up in the air.

Hinz and Sarno have already been farmed out, which means the Oilers are left with a difficult decision as to the last forward (or two?) that will have to be waived to fit the 23-man roster. Speculation would suggest that Moreau or Swanson will be the fall guy. It is worth noting that Moreau’s salary is ~ 1.45 mil, while Swanson’s is ~0.50 mil.

On defence the following players are waiver eligible:

Eric Brewer D
Janne Niinimaa D
Jason Smith D
Scott Ferguson D
Steve Staios D
Alex Henry D
Kari Haakana D

Additionally, Pisa is on a one-way deal, so both Pisa and Haakana will either play for the Oilers, or head back to Europe. Thus the Oilers don’t appear to have any serious waiver concerns on defence, unless Henry is sent down in which case he could be lost via regular waivers should someone claim him.

In goal, all three goaltenders would have to pass waivers to play in Hamilton. It seems likely at this point that Conklin will be the odd man out. Many teams are already set in goal, and it is unlikely someone would want to claim Conklin to play in the NHL all year long, though it is indeed a possibility.

Prediction: The Oilers will either expose Moreau in the waiver draft, hoping that someone else claims him, or will trade him after the waiver draft but before the season starts. Failing that, they may decide to waive Swanson, in hopes that he can clear waivers. If indeed Hemsky is going to start the year in Edmonton, I suspect that either Shawn Horcoff, or Todd Marchant, will be playing for a new team by the time the season starts on October 9th.